Tristan Bancks | Australian Children's & Teen Author | Kids' & YA Books: Wendy Orr, Children's Author: The Writer's Studio

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wendy Orr, Children's Author: The Writer's Studio

Children's Author Wendy Orr
Wendy Orr is a fascinating character. She lived in many parts of the world as a child and survived a life-changing accident as an adult. She writes books about 'the resilience of the human spirit; finding the courage we need to face adversity'. Wendy is the legendary author of Nim's Island, turned into a feature film starring Jodie Foster, and the new book Raven's Mountain. Here, Wendy invites us into her writing space, giving an intimate portrait of her writing environment and process.

Where did you write your latest book?
Mostly at this desk, but also at my parents’ house on an island near Vancouver, hotel rooms in New York and Boston and waiting at the hairdressers.
How important to you is the space that you write in?
Having my office the way I want it is important to me – but the actual writing I can do anywhere, as long as it’s quiet and I can sit in some comfort.
Wendy Orr's Writing Space
Do you transform your space in any way for each book?
I put pictures and small objects etc. up on my windowsill and the desk, maps and larger pictures on the door and collect photos for a screensaver. So for Raven’s Mountain, I had pictures of mountains, waterfalls, bears etc.
Do you 'get into character' at all? 
Mostly in an inner way, going inside myself to find what the character is feeling, but I also work out some things physically – like actually climbing in the kitchen window. It’s surprisingly awkward to get in and out of the sink!
Wendy Orr's memorabilia from life as a children's author.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
This is our fourth home since I started writing – so I started on an old laminex table that the previous owners of our farm had left behind, on a built-in verandah. Our next farmhouse had a strange, skinny office, where I had an IKEA desk and faced a brick wall, which I completely covered with pictures to set the scene for each book. So when we built this house, I put a lot of care into designing the office. And as I’ve now been writing for over 20 years, the office is now crammed with book and film souvenirs, awards, book covers etc – all things that make me happy.
Do you keep regular writing hours? What are they? If not, when do you write?
I read my emails before breakfast and answer the urgent overseas ones immediately, so I can catch people before they leave work for the day. Then I walk the dog and start work after that – I’ve got into the habit of checking twitter and facebook as well as emails before I actually start writing, but try to then switch those all off while I’m working. I try to make sure I stand up and stretch (or hang up washing etc) every half hour, and then walk the dog again around 4:00, then work through till about 6:00. In theory that’s when I do emails, but often I continue writing. On the weekends I try to catch up on emails and readers’ letters.
For more on Wendy, check out the her FAQ with lots of readers' questions at or swing by Wendy's blog Another author in The Writer's Studio next Wednesday.

1 comment

Sarah Prineas said...

That new office is so gorgeous--love the view out the window.

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